Wednesday, November 11, 2009




If Gujaratis were to be known with any other name, it can be with their flagship dish called "DHOKRA" also known as Dhokla. Origin of Dhokra is mired into as much controversy as Idli is. I quote this piece from a blog called "Controversial history".

The Dukkia is first mentioned in AD 1068 in Gujurati Jain literature, and dhokla appears in AD 1520 in the Varanaka Samuchaya. Besan flour is fermented overnight with curd, and steamed in slabs which are then cut into pieces and dressed with fresh coriander leaves, fried mustard seeds and coconut shreds. A coarser version is khaman and both are popular breakfast and snack foods in Gujurat. But we have to note that Gujart was ruled by chalukyas and Rastrakutas for many centuries before that and Idada may be from iddalige. Since we dont find references to that before that.

Indonesia origin

Achaya notes:
The use of rice grits along with urad dhal,the long fermentation of the mix, and the steaming of the batter to fluffiness. Only after 1250 AD are there references to what seem to be idlis as we know them. Achaya’s contention is that this absence from the historical record could mean that idlis are an imported concept — perhaps from Indonesia which has a long tradition of fermented products, like tempeh (fermented soy cakes), kecap (from where we get ketchup) or something called kedli, which Achaya says, is like an idli. This is plausible enough given the many links between Southeast Asia and South India, through rulers and traders. Achaya also adds many legendary stories ,but there is no basis for them. When we look forward to literary evidences in Indian literature , Achaya does not give any in Indonesia.

Heuan tsang says no steaming vessels south india in seventh century.But steaming vessels are not required for steaming dishes , steam can be produced using cloth over the vessel, still this method is used in south India.

My own contention on the above subject matter is somewhat in agreement with Sri Achaya. But I must hasten to add that Gujarat and Tamilnadu had very ancient maritime history. Gujaratis were on a long time trade relationship with Jawa, Sumatra(Indonasia)and Siam in olden days. So were the Nattukottai chettiars who belonged to Shreshthi( Chetti) community.

Both Gujaratis and Chettiars must have been influenced by Indonesian food and I am sure that they imported into India both Idli, Idada and Dhokra.Indonesian kings when on visit to Tamilnadu, also have been reported to have brought their cusine.Dhokla and Idada are two such things that Gujaratis took very much to their heart for ever.
They made experiments and still continue experimenting with recipes but the basic name remains the same. "DHOKLA"

Gujaratis prepare traditional Dhokra the recipe of which is given in this blog. I am posting the quick-Fix version of Dhokla called KHAMAN DHOKLA which is now most popular form all around the globe.

This quickfix KHAMAN DHOKLA is generally prepared using just the Chickpea flour (Besan) and soda bicarb and of course other ingredients to prepare spongy Dhoklas. That is a modern version and not very healthy one due to the usage of a lot of soda bicarb lack of fiber and lack of natural taste.Soda renders the dhokla dry and gives it an earthy taste which many people do not like.

I prepare Spongy Khaman Dhokla using fruit salt along with little rice flour and a little semolina. This is much more healthy and it does not spoil the taste.


Spongy Khaman Dhokla


Chick pea flour/Besan ..1 cup (200 gms)
Rice flour....1.5 tbsp
Semolina...2 tbsp
ginger 1" thumb thick piece
green chili peppers 2 to 3
Cooking oil .....1 oz
Fruit salt/Eno.....1 Tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar...1.5 tbsp (or to taste)
Lime juice ...1 tsp

Chili powder for sprinkling (few pinches)
cilantro/coriander leaves....few for garnishing


Mustard seeds... 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds....1.2 tsp
Curry leaves


Mix Chickpea flour, rice flour and semolina in a vessel. First mix them thoroughly. Add salt and sugar and again mix them properly.Make a rough paste of Ginger and Green chili peppers set aside.Take a cup and add Fruit salt/Eno with a spoon of cooking oil and make fine uniform white liquid.
Prepare the dhokla batter by mixing water in the flour mix by adding about 2 to 3 ounces of water. Please ensure that the batter is runny but not thin. It should have Idly Batter consistancy.Add chilli pepper-ginger paste at this juncture and mix . Set it aside.
Prepare the steaming vessel and oil a deep plate/shallow dabra by smearing oil on the inside. When the water in steaming vessel starts bubbling, add fruit salt/Eno solution in oil to the batter and using a ladle, mix it briskly and fast.
Pout the batter in pre oiled plate and immediately place it in the steam cooker and cover the vessel.Let it get steamed for 20 minutes.

When done, remove the plate , let it cool a bit and temper with sesame seeds along with mustard in hot oil. Then Garnish with cilantro . Now you can cut into diamond shapes or squares and serve with a chutney of your choice.

Traditionally Dhoklas are eaten dipping in peanut oil laced with salt and red chili powder. They are also eaten with Garlic Chutney.

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